At Unit 731, one of the largest covered up atrocities of World War 2, the Japanese army conducted human experiments using both chemical and germ weapons on living prisoners.
However, unlike the Nazis, there were no repercussions for those responsible.
In today’s episode of Undiscovered, we grapple with what actually happened and how it still affects Japan - and the world - today.
Japan’s invasion of the Chinese province of Manchuria is somewhat of a forgotten theatre of the Second World War, in part because the conflict began in 1931 - eight years before Germany invaded Poland.
Records show experimentation began at a site in Ping Fan, near Harbin, in the mid-1930s. The program, which operated under the pseudonym Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department, performed experiments on male and female prisoners - most of whom were Chinese or Korean.
In this week's episode, we spoke to two men, Professor Takao Matsumura and Professor Yuki Tanaka, who have spent their careers researching and publishing about Japanese war crimes. In conversation, both detailed the resistance their research about Unit 731 faced and how the crimes are still not widely taught in Japan today.
We explore all these factors, and the stories behind the research into them, in today’s podcast - listen now.
Find out more:
The documentary we reference in the podcast, Unit 731 - Did the Emperor Know, can be viewed at the BFI archives.
And if you want to know more about the Asia-Pacific war more generally - the fastidious Dan Carlin has a 4.5 hour podcast for you.